Several Cal Poly Football Coaches Return to Beaver State Roots

Several Cal Poly Football Coaches Return to Beaver State Roots



PORTLAND, Oregon – Fifth-year Cal Poly head football coach Tim Walsh and several members of the Mustang coaching staff have returned to the Beaver state.

Walsh, head coach at Portland State for 14 seasons, will be on the sideline of the visiting team at JELD-WEN Field on Thursday night for the first time since leaving the Vikings program in 2006 to become offensive coordinator at Army.

Mustang assistant coaches with deep ties to the state of Oregon include wide receivers coach Jim Craft, defensive line coach Eti Ena, defensive secondary coach Neil Fendall, running backs coach Aristotle Thompson, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Saga Tuitele and quarterbacks coach Juston Wood.

Cal Poly (1-2), ranked 18th in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll this week and No. 19 in the Sports Network media poll, and Portland State (3-1), receiving votes in both polls, open Big Sky Conference play Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. and the game will be televised by ROOT Sports (DirecTV 683, 687) and Dish Network (414, 426).

The Mustangs, playing on a Thursday for the first time since opening the 2002 season with a loss at Toledo, rallied from a 25-20 deficit to beat the Vikings 37-25 a year ago in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Deonte Williams rushed for 169 yards and Andre Broadous rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two more.

Portland State still leads the series, which began in 1977, earning 10 wins to Cal Poly's nine.

Cal Poly conducted its walk-through Wednesday afternoon under mostly cloudy skies at the Nike Campus (pictured above) in Beaverton, Oregon. The predicted temperature for Thursday's kickoff is 60 degrees with just a 10 percent chance of rain.

Craft was an assistant for nine seasons (2001-09) at Portland State, the first six under Walsh, and played for Walsh as a wide receiver at Portland State from 1995-98. More recently, Craft was offensive coordinator at Pacific (Oregon) from 2010-12.

Ena was defensive coordinator at Eastern Oregon from 2006-08 while Fendall played football at Milwaukie High School and Portland State (as a safety under Walsh) and has coached at Milwaukie, Oregon City and Grants Pass high schools along with a six-year stint at Linfield College.

Thompson's Oregon roots include playing football at Jesuit High School in Portland and coaching stints at Grant High School in Portland and Eastern Oregon. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Wood was a quarterback under Walsh at Portland State and coached at Douglas High while playing in the Arena Football League.

Tuitele played on both the offensive and defensive lines under Walsh at Portland State and was an assistant coach with Walsh's Vikings from 2003-06 before both went to Army for two years.

Coming off back-to-back losses to Football Bowl Subdivision schools Fresno State and Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference, Cal Poly faces a Portland State squad that has averaged 43 points and 612 yards in total offense four games into the 2013 season.

The Vikings compiled 672, 553, 622 and 601 yards in total offense, defeating Eastern Oregon and Humboldt State at home and UC Davis in a non-conference game on the road while falling 37-30 at Cal on Sept. 7. Portland State is No. 2 in the FCS in total offense and No. 1 in rushing, averaging 328 yards a contest on the ground.

The Vikings' 42.8 scoring average is No. 11 in the FCS.

DJ Adams spearheads the Viking ground attack with 491 yards and seven touchdowns, including 208 yards and two scores last week against UC Davis en route to Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors. Quarterback Kieran McDonagh has completed 57 percent of his 91 passes for 1,029 yards and seven touchdowns.

Portland State has lost 18 straight games to nationally ranked teams dating back to 2008. Walsh is 4-0 in the series between Cal Poly and Portland State, going 3-0 as Vikings head coach and 1-0 as the Mustangs' mentor.

Cal Poly, coming off a bye week, and Portland State renewed acquaintances last year after a 13-year hiatus. Both teams were members of the Division II Western Football Conference from 1982-92 and the Vikings won seven of 11 meetings against the Mustangs during that time.

Walsh is 4-0 following a bye week as head coach at Cal Poly.

While Cal Poly football, presented by French Hospital Medical Center, earned a share of the Big Sky title in its first year in the conference and qualified for the FCS playoffs for the third time in the last eight seasons, Portland State has never won the Big Sky and its lone FCS playoff appearance was in 2000. The Vikings, who have finished second in the Big Sky four times, earned eight Division II postseason bids in the 1980s and 1990s.

Cal Poly's Triple Option offense, which set a Big Sky record with 3,890 yards rushing in 12 games a year ago, has been more balanced this fall. The Mustangs are averaging 227 yards per game on the ground and 211 yards through the air.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Brown replaced starter Vince Moraga (out for the season with a knee injury) in the third quarter of the Fresno State game. Brown has completed 20 of 35 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns in six quarters of play.

Junior fullback Kristaan Ivory has rushed for 337 yards and three touchdowns in three games while Cal Poly's top receiver is junior Willie Tucker with 15 grabs for 308 yards and both Mustang passing touchdowns.

Junior linebacker Nick Dzubnar leads the Big Sky with 11.7 tackles per game, including three tackles for lost yardage and one sack.

Cal Poly has collected just four sacks this year, all in the season-opening win over San Diego, while Portland State has 17 sacks to its credit, most in the Big Sky. The Mustangs are the least-penalized team in the Big Sky with just 12 – four in each of their three games – while the Vikings have been penalized 40 times in four contests. Cal Poly has turned the ball over just once, a lost fumble in the Fresno State game, while Portland State has committed 13 turnovers, including nine lost fumbles.

Portland State, 3-8 a year ago, this fall has already equaled its win total of a year ago. The Vikings are averaging 8.7 yards per play and Portland State leads the nation averaging 19.9 yards per pass completion.